A new federal study reveals that many people being hospitalized with the swine flu were previously healthy individuals, with nearly half of the affected adults having no underlying condition.
The study also shows that children are still being hit the hardest. Doctors are now urging parents to be on the lookout for warning signs that a case of the swine flu has become life threatening.
Deaths from the flu are rare among children, but at least 76 American children have died of the disease since April.
"We've had five more pediatric deaths reported to us since the last time I briefed so again tragic consequences for a lot of children," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control.
Children can catch the H1N1 virus more easily than the seasonal flu.
"The flu symptoms in and of themselves may not be that dramatic but there can always be a secondary infection that arises," one doctor said. "That's why monitoring those small children and anyone else who has had the virus needs to be done for some time."
- fast or troubled breathing
- bluish skin color
- lack of thirst
- difficulty waking
- irritability so that the child does not want to be held
- and fever with a rash
Parents should also seek immediate medical help if flu symptoms develop in children most vulnerable to flu complications -- those younger than 5 years old, or with high-risk conditions, including asthma and other lung problems.